March 28, 2015

A Lantern In Her Hand~Bess Streeter Aldrich

I heard about this book slightly before, being that it is the namesake of one of my favorite blogs,  A Lantern in Her Hand. I finally got around to checking it out when I was reminded of it by seeing it on a list of books that was recommended for my brother's literature (he didn't read it though, haha).

This book was really beautiful. It was so real, and heartfelt, and lovely. The novel spans pretty much the whole life of Abbie Mackenzie, starting with her dreams of being a lovely pearl-laden lady like her aristocratic grandmother, Isabelle Anders-Mackenzie. Following her life as she grows up, the story tells of her courage as a young wife and mother out on the harsh Nebraska prairie.

A lot of the events in this book paralleled Little House on the Prairie.....prairie fires, well-mishaps....and the infamous grasshopper plagues.

I've read so many books about pioneers that after while I almost get tired of hearing about all the hardships they went through-because it was just so disheartening!

But, despite the hard, back-breaking work and depressing, tear-filled moments, Abbie made the best of it all and provided for her family out on the lonely prairie. There are moments of happiness, one of my favorites being their Christmas with all the homemade presents for the children.

Now, the next few paragraphs will contain some *spoilers*, so either skip to the very bottom of this post or just go read the book. It's worth it!!

Will and Abbie were an adorable couple. I loved how they knew each other from childhood and understood each other so well. It was so sweet when he kissed her goodbye when he went to war.
Then of course, there was Ed Matthews.....I loved it when Abbie ran to Will when he returned from war in the spring (this author's descriptions of nature and the seasons and the surroundings are sooooo beautiful) and sobbed, "Don't let me do it!" "Do what, Abbie-Girl?" "Marry Ed Matthews." And Will fiercely gathers her to him and says he certainly will not. It's just so sweet and romantic and perfect because Abbie and Will are perfect. Together, I mean. :)

(Will's death was so unfair. That's all I'm going to say about it.)

I cried and sobbed when Abbie died....not so much because she died (we all have to sometime) but reading an entire book about one person's life (whether they be fictional or real), sharing in their disappointments and happiness, and then coming to the end.....

I also felt sad for her in the sense that not many of her children seemed to understand her. Laura, her granddaughter did, for which I am thankful, but as for her actual children who grew up on the prairie....they never seemed to fully grasp how she thought of things, and how much she did for them-all the self-sacrifices she made for them. Ever since she was a little girl she dreamed of doing something "big"-being a singer, an artist, or a writer. She dreamed and waited and waited for that day to come but it never did. Instead, she got to see her daughter Isabelle become the singer, her daughter Margaret become the artist, and her granddaughter Laura become the writer.

I did love how Abbie comes to realize despite her never did anything "great"-she accomplished the most wonderful task of all, that of motherhood. I just wish her children could have shown her a little more kindness and understanding. They all loved her, I grant them that, but they never seemed to take the time to truly understand her and her memories and emotions. As it says later on it the book,

"How [the children] thought of her bodily comfort,-always her physical needs. Not one ever said,  'Are you sad, Mother?' or 'How does your mind feel?' or 'Does anything hurt your heart?'"

For instance, she finally gives the pearls-the necklace handed down by her own mother to be given to one of the Mackenzie girls on their wedding day- to her granddaughter Katharine. Abbie tells her the story of the pearls, but Kathie just doesn't seem too interested in how meaningful that necklace was to Abbie. She later does tell Abbie that she cares more then it seems, but still. Actions speak louder than words, Kathie! I guess because I love history and the life stories of people, I just can't grasp how Abbie's children just didn't seem to care. They were too caught up in their own lives.

They did do a lovely thing for her, though. They found and bought the portrait of Isabelle Anders-Mackenzie that Abbie had heard and dreamed about since childhood. I was crying for happiness when the showed it to her. It was overwhelming. The meaning that the portrait held for her....

I loved the comparison of love being a lantern and how often the author described Abbie with "a song on her lips and a lantern in her hand."  It was so beautiful.


*spoilers end*
This book is as sweet, lovely, and cozy as they come. It has the sweeping broadness of an epic story, and yet most of the story takes place right in Abbie's house in Nebraska. Love and duty and family are central themes to the story and I can hardly think of this book without tearing up because it's just so beautiful and I'm such a romantic, emotional, nolstagic person.

Read this book. You won't regret it.

March 23, 2015

Hidden Pearls!

Hey everyone!!!


Hayden Wand over at The Story Girl is hosting a giveaway and blog party for her new debut novel,  Hidden Pearls. I've heard much about this book over the last couple years and am SO excited for its release! I'm of course hoping to win the giveaway, but if I don't I will definitely be buying this novel. Everything I've read about it sounds amazing and lovely, and just LOOK at that cover! I know they say don't judge a book by its cover, but I think I'm safe to say this book will be wonderful. :)

Also, I have to give a quick shout out of  "thanks!" to Hayden for being my 43rd follower!!!!
Hayden's blog has always been one of my favorite blogs (if I hadn't stumbled upon her blog, I may not be here typing up my own blog post!) and I am beyond honored to have the creator of The Story Girl following Raindrops on Roses and Whiskers on Kittens! :) 



March 19, 2015

Marguerite in Pencil


Hey, everyone! It's been awhile since I shared some artwork with you. Here's a pencil drawing of Marguerite from The Scarlet Pimpernel. It was partly a school assignment and partly practice....and partly just for fun. :) I hope you like it!


March 16, 2015

The Bookshelf Tag

I love bookshelves. I love organizing them and looking at them and checking out other people's bookshelves. You can tell a lot about a person from their book shelves. :)
And plus, I love books, so hey, a bookshelf is going to be the first thing to attract my attention when I walk into your house! ;)

I don't usually like doing tags (because I'd rather spend blogging time on an "actual" post) but as I was sitting in bed doing schoolwork one day I thought up this tag and had to make it. I hope you enjoy!


*I got the picture from Pinterest. Hopefully it's okay to use it. -crosses fingers-

Usually you "tag" someone and then they answer the questions on their blog, but I'm going to skip that step and just invite anyone who wishes to answer the questions!
Please link back to my blog if you do so. Thanks!

Some "rules":
The book (s) you answer with must be from your bookshelf.
And include a picture of your bookshelf if you'd like to and if possible (if not, no big deal. Include pictures of your dream bookshelf, if you wish!)


The Bookshelf Tag~

Describe your bookshelf (or wherever it is you keep your books-it doesn't actually have to be a shelf!) and where you got it from: It's tall, has 6 shelves, and is painted light cream. It used to be in my family's den, but when we moved I got to keep the bookshelf in my room because the house we bought already had a built in bookshelf. Yay!

Do you have any special or different way of organizing your books?
I mostly organize by my favorite books and such (like, my favorites are in easy reach haha). I keep books by the same author and series together.

What's the thickest (most amount of pages) book on your shelf?
Les Miserables...

What's the thinnest (least amount of pages) book on your shelf?
Probably a cute picture book about Disney's Cinderella that was published in the 70's. A whopping 22 pages, folks.

Is there a book you received as a birthday gift or a Christmas gift?
Yes, the Cherry Ames books I have were given to me over a couple birthdays and Christmases.

What's the smallest (height and width wise) book on your shelf?
I don't know. I don't have any excessively small books. Probably my copy of The Little Princess.

What's the biggest (height and width wise) book on your shelf?
Little Women. It's a big copy.

Is there a book from a friend on your shelf?
Yes, a couple of my Little House on the Prairie books were given to my by some friends.

Most expensive book?
I'm not really sure...I get most of my books from thrift stores or from Amazon and for those that probably were more expensive I can't remember. I have two books that were both priced $20 retail but I got them for free, so......  :/

The last book you read on your shelf?
Becoming Nikki by Ashley Elliot!

Of all the books on your shelf, which was the first you read?
Oh goodness...maybe Little House on the Prairie?

Do you have more than one copy of a book?
Yes, I have two copies of Anne of Green Gables and two copies of A Tale of Two Cities.

Do you have the complete series of any book series?
I have all the Anne books, and all of the Violet and Millie books from the A Life of Faith series.


What's the newest addition to your shelf?
Again, Becoming Nikki.

What book has been on your shelf FOREVER?
A couple Animal Inn books. They're cute but nothing special. Just one of my favorites when I was young.... haha.

What's the most recently published book on your shelf?
.......Becoming Nikki... (This book is getting a lot of free publicity hahaha)

The oldest book on your shelf (as in, the actual copy is old)?
My copy of The Littlest Rebel by Edward Peple was published in 1914!! I didn't even know I had a book that old. I haven't read it yet, though, so I can't recommend it yet.

A book you won?
Tales for Little Ears by Heidi Peterson! I have yet to read it but I can't wait to!

A book you'd hate to let out of your sight (aka a book you never let someone borrow)?
Mmm...as long as someone returns my books (still in good condition) I'd probably let them borrow any....I might be loath to lend out any book that I've had for a long time (so long that it's MY copy) like my copy of Emma by Jane Austen.

Most beat up book?
Again, The Littlest Rebel by Edward Peple. Either that or Donna Parker in Hollywood by Marcia Martin.

Most pristine book?
Most of my books are in preeetty good condition....perhaps the Fireflies in December books by Jennifer Erin Valent because they're so new.


A book from your childhood?
Meet Felicity from American Girl. :)

A book that's not actually your book?
The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis. It's my dad's.

A book with a special/different cover (e.g. leather bound, soft fuzzy cover etc.)?
One of my copies of A Tale of Two Cities is a fuzzy, light pink cover....so pretty, haha. See the right of the picture below for it. (haha and you can see my Phantom of the Opera tickets tucked into my Phantom of the Opera book. 16 more days!!!!)

A book that is your favorite color?
Along the Shore by L.M. Montgomery....a lovely, soft aqua color. :)

Book that's been on your shelf the longest that you STILL haven't read?
Hem....I have a LOT of books I've had forever and still haven't read..... On Hope's Wings by Melody Carlson, War Horse by Michael Morpurgo, Once Upon a Summer by Janette Oke, Lorna Doone by R.D. Blackmore, Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell. and Jane Austen's Minor Works....and there's still more.....I guess I better get to work...
Any signed books?
Eloise of Westhaven: Not Just a Kid and Eloise of Westhaven: Love is Patient. 


Hope you enjoy! Remember, feel free to answer the questions-I'm not tagging anyone! :)

Here are the questions again, for easy copying purposes:

The Bookshelf Tag~
Describe your bookshelf (or wherever it is you keep your books-it doesn't actually have to be a shelf!) and where you got it from:
Do you have any special or different way of organizing your books?
What's the thickest (most amount of pages) book on your shelf?
What's the thinnest (least amount of pages) book on your shelf?
Is there a book you received as a birthday gift?
What's the smallest (height and width wise) book on your shelf?
What's the biggest (height and width wise) book on your shelf?
Is there a book from a friend on your shelf?
Most expensive book?
The last book you read on your shelf?
Of all the books on your shelf, which was the first you read?
Do you have more than one copy of a book?
Do you have the complete series of any book series?
What's the newest addition to your shelf?
What book has been on your shelf FOREVER?
What's the most recently published book on your shelf?
The oldest book on your shelf (as in, the actual copy is old)?
A book you won?
A book you'd hate to let out of your sight (aka a book you never let someone borrow)?
Most beat up book?
Most pristine book?
A book from your childhood?
A book that's not actually your book?
A book with a special/different cover (e.g. leather bound, soft fuzzy cover etc.)?
A book that is your favorite color?
Book that's been on your shelf the longest that you STILL haven't read?
Any signed books?


March 12, 2015

Becoming Nikki Review

Awhile back I interviewed Ashley Elliot of Inklings Press for her blog tour on her first published novel, Becoming Nikki. Since then I've been able to read it and am now here to share my thoughts on it! :)

First of all, it's a story about a broken brother-sister relationship. I LOVE a good brother and sister relationship in stories (probably because I have a brother of my own and we have so much fun together and I love him :)). In think in today's culture, brothers and sisters are typically portrayed as enemies at worst, sarcastic and annoying to each other at best. And while the latter may or may not be true (at times-ahem-) it certainly isn't the case for ALL brothers and sisters, and shouldn't be the only way brothers and sisters are portrayed.
-steps off soapbox-

Sorry, everyone, got a little carried away there. Back to the review....

Nikki was a great protagonist and very relatable. She's introverted and nervous when she has to interact with strangers. Underneath her shy and sometimes awkward demeanor though she's very caring and sensitive. Throughout the story she struggles to forgive her brother for the way he's treated her in the past years. Which brings me to Alec.

Alec was beyond irritating (and mean) at first but soon grew to perhaps be my favorite character.
*Spoilers ahead*
When he woke up after his accident and Nikki found out he lost his memory I cried SO hard. I personally think it was one of the best, emotional scenes of the book. You could really feel Nikki's fear and bewilderment. It was so heartbreaking. BUT, after his accident (and still without his memory) he's so very sweet and kind to his sister. He remembers nothing of his past attitude toward her, for which Nikki is grateful for. As they go about their daily lives, continuing their ice dancing career, they grow closer, but she still can't bring herself to trust him fully. And she still can't forgive him.
*Spoiler End*

Dylan and Natalie (ha) were two close friends of Nikki. Dylan was a really nice guy and it was fun to see him and Nikki grow closer as the story progressed. Natalie was funny and outgoing from the first, always there for Nikki to comfort and encourage her and make her laugh. Plus they watched period dramas together! I loved all the references to movies I've seen (and love) such as Little Dorrit, Bleak House, Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice (95!).....

Probably my favorite "minor" character was actually the nurse, Kate. She was really sweet and helpful to Nikki, acting as an "older" friend who gave her advice and comfort when she needed it. Plus she was British, so it was fun to imagine her British accent in my head as I read it. :)

I loved the ice-dancing aspect of the story. It was unique and fun and prompted me to google videos of Charlie White and Meryl Davis.  I was kind of hooked for awhile and really wished I knew how to ice skate like them! (Keep dreaming, Natalie. haha)

I also found videos of Disney On Ice and...ahem...may have had too much fun watching those...

Anyways, I keep forgetting I'm reviewing a book. :P

So, as Nikki and Alec prepare for the ice dancing Nationals, Nikki worries what will happen when Alec's memory returns. Will he still like her? Will he revert back to being mean and uncaring?

I want to say more, but I don't want to give away too much...so you'll have to read the book for yourself!!! I completely recommend it- it was a sweet and inspiring story, and one I'm glad to have on my bookshelves! :)
Make sure to check out Ashley's blog: Inklings Press

March 8, 2015

Why I Didn't Read The Book Thief

I've never really written a controversial post before. And while I wouldn't call THIS a "controversial post", it still may not be met with agreement...
t

Over the last year I've heard The Book Thief mentioned a LOT. Everyone seemed to love it, everyone seemed to recommend it, everyone seemed heartbroken over it, but still considered it a new favorite.
So, I wanted to try it too! It's set during World War 2 and is about books? How much better could it
get, right?

Whenever I'd read a review for this book or someone would recommend it, they would say the only bad thing about it was that it had some bad language in it. I was like, "All right. I can deal with that, if it's not too bad." So I checked it out from the library and started reading it (with the mention to my mom that it had a few particular "words". She said that's fine as long as it didn't get worse.).
So, it started out with some "mild" profanity.  I mainly ignored it and tried to gloss over any parts like "he swore...." Well, it kept getting a little worse until they finally starting using Jesus' name casually and THEN they used God's name in conjunction with the d-word.

Aaaannnd.....that's when I closed the book.

I don't like profanity in books. I avoid it as much as I can. But when they're blaspheming the name of our Lord? That's just too much for me. I mean, where do you draw the line?

And trust me, I REALLY wanted to read TBT. It sounded sooo good, and I loved the author's writing style. It was so unique and creative and beautiful-why did he have to spoil it with blasphemy and profanity?

Yes, this was Germany in WW2. Yes, I'm sure people talked like that and much worse during that time (and today). But I really don't want to read it. I don't want to desensitize myself to people using God's name casually.

But that's just me. Maybe some of you can easily ignore those parts. And that's fine. I don't want to point fingers or make people feel guilty. I'm just simply wondering why people mention the profanity but not the blasphemy? Blasphemy seems a bigger deal that profanity to me. (not that I'm condoning profanity, of course!)

“Do not blaspheme Gode or curse the ruler of your people." Exodus 22:28

So, if you still enjoyed this book despite its flaws, that's fine. I'm sure it was a REALLY good story. I honestly still want to read it. But I feel like I'd be lowering my standards (based on God's Word) if I continued to do so.


And just to be clear, many of my favorite bloggers have mentioned their like/love for this book, and PLEASE understand that I don't think any less of them for doing so!!


I'd love to hear YOUR opinions/convictions about books like this. 
Have you read The Book Thief
Where do you draw the line about when to read or not read a book?